About

This website is devoted to primary-source research on the ancestors and descendants of John Valentine Shuler [“Johann Valentin Schuller”, 1759-1833], a notable Pennsylvania German Fraktur artist whose family carried the name Shuler westward to Ohio. This Shuler family is also well-known for its acclaimed gunsmiths.

In the interest of clarity and readability, it is the modern, anglicized version of names that is used on this website. Whenever necessary, the German versions appear in [brackets]. Brackets are also used for clarifying commentary.

The name of John Valentine Shuler’s grandfather had already been anglicized as “Francis Shuller” and “Francis Shuler” in the earliest-known historical sources. Francis died between August 1741 and February 1742.

John Valentine Shuler’s father was Valentine Shuler [“Vallentin Schuller”, b. bef. 1739, d. 1812]. He wrote the German name “Valentin” with a double “l”.

There are two main sections on this website: FAQs and Biographies. Both are subject to ongoing revision. Because our chief goal is to document the family’s European roots and emigration history, the first biography that has been published is that of our earliest-known ancestor in colonial America — Francis Shuler. The biographies of Valentine Shuler and John Valentine Shuler himself will follow.

FAQ number one takes readers to an overview of John Valentine Shuler’s generation based on primary sources. This may be especially helpful for first-time visitors who are unsure of their kinship. But the spelling of family names is nothing stable and kinship is neither ruled in nor ruled out by spelling alone. We have encountered many spellings of confirmed kinship in historical documents in The United States including “Scheuler”, “Schueler”, “Schuler”, “Schullor”, “Sculler”, “Sheeler”, “Schouler”, “Shuller” and “Soller”. The surname “Schuyler” (widely perceived to be Dutch, but nevertheless pronounced “Shuler”) presents a challenging case taken up in its own FAQ.

We do not know who our family’s immigrant ancestor was. There is no evidence whatsoever that the “Frantz Schuller” who arrived in the port of Philadelphia aboard Christopher Clymer’s brig Richard and Elizabeth on the 28th of September, 1733, is the same person as the “Francis Shuller”/”Francis Shuler” whose trail we pick up in the Swatara and Tulpehocken Creek valleys and whose biography is published on this website. The probability is low enough to warrant rigorous consideration — which we do in answering a separate FAQ. We suspect earlier or parallel branches in colonial America related to Francis Shuler on good grounds.

The earliest-known place that has been documented in our family’s colonial history by name is Bethel Township in Lancaster County Pennsylvania in the year 1742. Lancaster County itself was founded in 1729. But a township as a subdivision of a county is not a town or village or plot of land. There is no ‘X’ that marks the spot, but rather only a large administrative territory enveloped in part by the counties formed afterwards: Berks (1752), Dauphin (1785), Schuylkill (1811) and Lebanon (1813). Moreover, the 1742 reference stems from the processing of Francis Shuler’s estate after his death intestate. It is the end, rather than the beginning of a chapter. We do not know how long he lived in the area. For more on Bethel Township, see his biography.

From the early 1700s through the French and Indian War (1754-1763), this side and the other side of today’s Appalachian Trail north of Little Swatara Creek marked the borderlands between European settler and Native American cultures. Passable in the early days of peaceful bewilderment, the region erupted with unimaginable horror in 1754. John Valentine Shuler was born right into the midst of it in the year 1759 — the year the map below was published.

Hover to zoom in. Detail from a map entitled: To the Honourable Thomas Penn and Richard Penn, Esqrs., true & absolute proprietaries & Governours of the Province of Pennsylvania & counties of New-Castle, Kent & Sussex on Delaware this map of the improved part of the Province of Pennsylvania by Nicholas Scull, James Turner and John Davis. Philadelphia: Nicholas Scull, 1759. To download a high-resolution image of the entire map from the Library of Congress, click here.

The report below documents some of the atrocities experienced by settler families beginning in the autumn of 1755. The French and Indian War refers to the North American theater of the Seven Years’ War between France and Britain and their respective Native American allies.

Hover to zoom in. Letter from Peter Spycker to Conrad Weiser (November 28th, 1757) listing those killed, scalped and taken captive from Bethel Township, Tulpehocken, Bern and “over the mountain.” Weiser was a witness to the Letters of Administration of our “Francis Shuller’s” estate filed by his widow Anna Margred in 1742. To download a high-resolution image of this document from the Digital Library of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, click here. Weiser’s tavern and homestead are visible in the lower righthand corner of the 1759 map detail above. For those unfamiliar with Conrad Weiser, click here.

Over the past decades, we have carried out research on location in public and private collections and archives in The United States, England, The Netherlands and German-speaking Europe. It was in the course of that research in the 1980s that we discovered The Schuller Family Register, the most important primary source to date, in the holdings of a descendant family in The United States. It continues to serve as the foundation for our research.

The Schuller Family Register 1758-1790

as recorded in a copy of Zweymahl zwey und fünfzig auserlesene Biblische Historien aus dem Alten und Neuen Testamente, Der Jugend zum Besten abgefasset von Johann Hübnern, Rectore des Johannei zu Hamburg, Nebst einer Vorrede E. Hoch-Ehrwürd. Ministern der Stadt Hamburg. Tübingen: Bey Christian Gottfrid Cotta, 1739. This anthology of bible stories for children by Johann Hübner (1668-1731), Rector of the Gelehrtenschule des Johanneums in Hamburg as of 1711, was one of the most widely reprinted pedagogical books of its time. This particular copy bears the ex libris of “Johann Valentin Schuller” shown on this website’s landing page. Here his name appears in his father’s handwriting in line four.

Schuller Family Register

Line-by-line transcription

Vallentin Schuller ver Ehligt*
den 9ten feber 1758
den 2ten Jullius 1759 ist gebohrn
Johan Vallentin Schuller
den 17 Abrill 1761 ist gebohren
Anna Margred
den 19 Mertz 1764 ist gebohren
Catarina
den 22ten Mertz 1767 ist gebohren
Andreas Schuller
Sußanna Catharina Schullerin gebohren
den 19 Abrill 1770
den 21 feber 1775 Georg Wend-
el Schuller gebohren
den 2. Juni 1790 ist gebohren
Cristina Schullerin

Summary and Annotations

[* = verehelicht, married.] “Vallentin Schuller” married on the 9th of February 1758. “Johan Vallentin Schuller”was born on the 2nd of July 1759. “Anna Margred” was born on the 17th of April 1761. “Catarina” was born on the 19th of March 1764. “Andreas Schuller” was born on the 22nd of March 1767. “Sussanna Catharina Schullerin” was born on the 19th of April 1770. “Georg Wendel Schuller” was born on the 21st of February 1775. “Christina Schullerin” was born on the 2nd of June 1790. Remarkably, the Register makes no mention of the mothers; we know that “Vallentin Schuller” was married at least twice. The surnames of the first-born daughters [“Schuller” in the feminine form = “Schullerin”], were left out when the Register was written. For more on the name “Schuller” in the German sources see the pertinent FAQ.

For the time being, The Schuller Family Register must suffice as the only known authentic primary source of such early information. Meanwhile, we hope for some small and perhaps unrecognized or undeciphered scrap of information in English, German, Dutch or French from parties unknown that will serve this website’s chief purpose. We are aware of the risk that one small piece of evidence could precipitate the complete revision of this website. Such is the nature of scientific inquiry.

Works cited in the text appear alphabetically in the Bibliography section. Many are accessible online by simply clicking the highlighted entries there. Other external links are included in the various text sections for direct reference.

This is a uniquely transatlantic website. Coordinated research is ongoing on both sides of the Atlantic. We are direct descendants of Johann Valentin Schuller.

Gregory Hahn, Ph.D. (Berlin, Germany) & Jon Shuler, Ph.D. (Pawleys Island, South Carolina), Publishers.